Last weekend, I participated in part one of a three-part course that teaches about reconnecting with nature, designing ecologically, and following life’s principles. This is a journal entry after that experience.
Saturday morning, I woke up early and started the trek out to western Mass. Already feeling a bit self-conscious driving alone in a fossil-fuel guzzling SUV, I gently put the thought aside and told myself that next time, I’ll try harder to organize a carpool, since at least five other people were coming from the Boston area. Upon arriving at the eco-village where the course took place, I felt a sense of serenity and awe that an intentional community of people could design such beautiful settlements inside and out. Sirius has been around for over 35 years. Most of it has been built slowly and deliberately with over 95% of the wood sourced locally. It took so long to build because each log was meditated with! One of the founding members told us stories of how they communicated with the trees, and the trees being happy to be used as shelter and resources as long as they were respected. Doesn’t that remind you of The Giving Tree?
We started each day around 8am with a skillshare (how a masonry heater works, meditation session) and end class around 5pm. The curriculum was balanced between sitting in a big circle listening/participating, doing group activities, and spending time outdoors. My favorite activity was a naturalist/tracker guest instructor taking us out in the woods and having each of us find a spot, sit there in the snow, and just observe nature. I plan to create a tiny habit of doing sit spot in my background to observe the environment where we’ll be growing food. My favorite thought-provoking talk was by a guy who said that a lot of our problems stems from this perception that we as humans are separate from nature. Also, when the twenty students introduced ourselves in class, it was surprising that none of us came from a landscaping background. Something else had attracted us to the class. What could it be?
During a lunch conversation with the instructor, after mentioning how clueless I was on how to incorporate nature into the education of our two young kids and avoiding nature deficit disorder, she recommended Coyote’s Guide, so I’m reading it now. Protip: Buy the digital PDF ($20 vs $100 paperback) and convert it to Kindle version.
It’s fascinating that many indigenous cultures don’t have formal education systems, but rather a culture of mentorship, an invisible school with mentors that playfully guide us to the edges of our comfort zone where deep learning and experiences happen. This guy who lives in the woods teaches about the relationship between us and nature and the cyclical path we walk. Makes me wonder, as the pace of the world gets faster and faster, and we spend all our time in human-created environments, what have we lost along the way? What did we forget?
In other news, I’m planning to attend Charles Eisenstein’s event in Jamaica Plain on Sun 1/26/14 and would love to see you there.